Food Guide for Vegetarians in Southeast Asia

19 Dec, 2023 | Amazing Bite

Find out about popular vegetarian dishes, ingredients and restaurants in Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia and Thailand in our Southeast Asia vegetarian guide.

Is it a pity for vegetarians to travel to a food heaven like Southeast Asian countries? Vegetarians planning a trip to Southeast Asia are in for a treat—many treats, actually. This continent is home to numerous delicious vegetarian cuisines that make for a magical culinary journey. We will introduce you to our favorite vegetarian dishes and restaurants throughout Southeast Asia in this post.

Why Southeast Asia is the Best Place for Vegetarians

There is arguably no better part of the world to visit as a vegetarian than Southeast Asia. You might struggle on other countries to find meals that fit within your dietary restrictions, but not here. Vegetables are mere sides or garnishes in many other cuisines around the world. But in Southeast Asian foods, they are some of the principal ingredients. Moreover, the diversity of vegetarian cuisine from country to country and region to region is exceptional. You will never run out of new things to try.

Vegetarian Guide for Southeast Asian Countries

Vietnam

Vegetables comprise a huge portion of Vietnamese cuisine, including cabbages, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, Malabar spinach, crown daisy, mustard greens, bok choy, and many others. They may be eaten fresh, or they may be fried or boiled before they are added to recipes.
 
Vietnamese Vegetarian Dishes to Try
 
Pho: This traditional Vietnamese noodle soup is perhaps the most famous dish from this country around the globe. While pho can include meat, you can get a vegetarian version of the soup that includes ingredients like shitake mushrooms, onion, ginger, bean sprouts, peppers, basil and mint.

Fried Egg Bánh Mì: This is a type of breakfast sandwich containing carrots, jalapenos, cucumber and eggs. Keep in mind that it traditionally includes fish sauce, so it would only be suitable for a pescatarian (ask them to skip the fish sauce if you do not eat fish).

Chuối Nếp Nướng (charcoal-grilled banana wrapped in sticky rice): This rice dish can be sweet or savory. You can grab the savory type from a street food vendor as breakfast, or choose one of the sweet Chuối Nếp Nướngi dishes as a dessert. Served in a banana leaf, it can include a wide range of ingredients such as corn, mung beans, onions, durian or other ingredients. 

Spring Rolls: Vegetarian spring rolls are among the most popular options for those who want a snack that is as refreshing as it is delicious. Typical ingredients include cucumbers, glass noodles, rice noodles, carrots, mushrooms and tomatoes. You can see through the translucent wraps to the tasty ingredients inside, adding a colorful visual appeal to this dish.

Hot pot: This is a vegetarian hot pot that includes ingredients like carrots, onions, lemongrass, daikon, tofu, noodles, watercress, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and more.

Suggested Vegetarian Restaurants in Vietnam

Sadhu
Address:

  • 87 Ly Thuong Kiet street, Hanoi
  • Udic Complex, N04, Hoang Dao Thuy street, Hanoi
  • 309, Level 3, Lotte Mall Westlake, Hanoi

 
Note: This is a vegetarian/vegan-only restaurant with great food choice. The branch in Lotte Mall is the newest with the nicest dining space among all.
 
Minh Hien Vegetarian Restaurant
Address: 26/16 Thai Phien Street, Hoi An, Quang Nam

Example Dishes: Banana Leaf Rice, Oyster Mushrooms in Ginger, Crispy Rice Pancakes.

Notes: Dine in the rooftop area during any weather (there is an awning). Check into taking their cooking class.

Shamballa Vegetarian, Restaurant & Tea House
 
Address: 17-19 Trinh Van Can Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
 
Example Dishes: Tomato Tofu, Smashed Rice Paper Mushroom Salad, Steamed Lotus Leaf Noodles.

Thailand

Thailand is a country that boasts many wonderful Asian vegetarian dishes. Common ingredients in Thai vegetarian cooking include noodles, peanut sauce, bean sprouts, lemongrass, carrots, curry and more. Tofu can easily be substituted for meat in many Thai recipes.
 
Thai Vegetarian Dishes to Try
 
Pineapple Fried Rice: This is a distinctive curry fried rice recipe that includes ingredients such as cashews, peas, currants and pineapples.

Vegetarian Pad Thai: Perhaps the most iconic recipe for which Thailand is known around the world is Pad Thai. This dish features rice noodles, bean sprouts, peanuts, shrimp and scrambled eggs in a distinctive sauce blended from fish sauce and tamarind juice. If you do not eat shrimp and/or eggs, you can just skip these ingredients.

Tofu Satay: By blending red curry paste with peanut butter, you can create the delicious peanut sauce used in satay. Often, satay is a chicken dish, but it can be made with tofu instead.

Vegetarian Tom Kah: This soup is made using coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, galangal or ginger, lemongrass, coriander, Thai chili, fish sauce, lime juice and mushrooms. While chicken is often added, you can skip that or add tofu.

Top Vegetarian Restaurants in Thailand
 
Kruaboon Thai
 
Address: 104, Mahesak Next to Aspira Gems Centre Silom ปราโมทย์ Suriya Wong, Bang Rak, Bangkok
 
Example Dishes: Black olive fried, rice, Tom Yum soup, Red Thai Curry with tofu.
 
Notes: The food here can be very spicy by default. If you prefer mild food, let them know.
 
VEGANERIE Concept
 
Address: 35 2 Sukhumvit Road, Khlong Tan, Khlong Toei, Bangkok
 
Example Dishes: Som Tam, Larb, Spicy Fried V-Nuggets with Rice, Pad Kaprow Rice Bowl, Veggie Burgers
 
Notes: Consider this restaurant if you want to eat at a place that serves “meat alternative” dishes such as burgers and nuggets you might not find everywhere.
 
Ethos Vegetarian Restaurant
 
Address: 85/2, Wat Bowon Niwet, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
 
Example Dishes: Som Tam, Green Curry, Pad Thai, Veggie Lasagna, Falafel Hummus
 
Notes: For a vegetarian restaurant that serves a wide range of ethnic cuisines from around the globe, eat at Ethos.

Indonesia

When you eat at Asian vegetarian restaurants in Indonesia, you will be able to enjoy cuisine that features ingredients such as corn, spinach, lemongrass, pumpkin, rice, noodles, cabbage, tofu, cauliflower and more.
 
Indonesian Vegetarian Dishes to Try
 
Bakwan jagung: When you are exploring the streets of Indonesia, you can grab this popular snack from a local vendor. These corn fritters contain flour, egg, spring onion and spices, and have a crispy fried texture.

Rujak: This delicious Indonesian dish unites a cornucopia of veggies and fruits for a refreshing salad. A special dressing made of tamarind, shrimp paste, chili, water and palm sugar called sambal rujak completes the dish.

Gado gado: Enjoy a mix of bean sprouts, tofu, hard-boiled eggs and other vegetables coated in peanut sauce.

Telur belado: This dish consists of deep-fried hard-boiled eggs that are covered in a special sauce called sambal belado. You will notice egg is a common ingredient in many Indonesian dishes; if you do not eat egg, ask them to substitute tofu or skip that ingredient.

Top Vegetarian Restaurants in Indonesia
 
Burgreens Flagship Menteng - Healthy Plant-Based Eatery
 
Address: Jl. K.H. Wahid Hasyim No.47, RT.1/RW.4, Gondangdia, Kec. Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10350
 
Example Dishes: Paket Hangat, Soto Mie, Mie Goreng Tek Tek, Burgers
 
Notes: Dine on a variety of Eastern and Western vegetarian foods. This is a budget-friendly choice.
 
Che Hwa Vegetarian Restaurant
 
Address: Jl. Jemb. Dua Raya No.2, RT.5/RW.4, Pejagalan, Kec. Penjaringan, Jkt Utara, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 14450
 
Example Dishes: Mie, Nasi Goreng, Kwetiau, Sushi
 
Notes: If you are renting a car, be aware that parking is limited.
 
Mai3 Cafegan Vegetarian Café
 
Address: 6X, Jl. Raya Tuban No.1, Tuban, Kec. Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361
 
Example Dishes: Sapo Tofu Mushrooms, Spicy Ma La Xiang Guo, Nasi Bakar Betutu
 
Notes: Ice water is free, and you can request a refill (good to know on a hot day).

Laos

Asian vegetarian food in Laos features ingredients such as papaya, galangal, lemongrass, onion, lime leaves, tomatoes, chilies, carrots and rice.
 
Laotian Vegetarian Dishes to Try
Larb: Traditionally, this is a meat-based dish featuring minced beef, chicken, pork or duck together with vegetables, toasted rice, chili and mint. But ingredients such as tofu or mushrooms can be used instead of meat. As it is the national dish, you will definitely want to try it.

Papaya Salad: For a refreshing dish, try this popular salad with some sticky rice. If you eat fish, you will like the sauce as well; if you do not, ask for them not to give you any.

Khanom Krok: Try these delicious coconut cakes if you are hankering for a treat with a melt-in-your-mouth consistency.

Top Vegetarian Restaurants in Laos
 
Vegan Reunion Café
 
Address: XJ93+X5 Vientiane
 
Example Dishes: Noodle Soup Tom Yum, Green Curry, Fresh Spring Rolls, Vegan Fried Chicken.  
 
Notes: Water and tea are free with your meal. You can dine in or order takeout.
 
Khouadin Vegetarian Buffet
 
Address: XJ78+VR5, Vientiane
 
Example Dishes: Banana Leaf Wrap, Curries, Coconut Sago Dessert Soup.
 
Notes: This restaurant offers an affordable, tasty all-you-can-eat buffet. 
 
Coco&Co.
 
Address: Rue Setthathilath, Vientiane
 
Example Dishes: Coco Pad Thai, Scramble Tofu, Avocado Toast.
 
Notes: Vegan foods are available here, but you may have to make requests (i.e. the coffee comes with milk by default, but you can ask for oat milk).
 

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